My Studio

Here is my sewing studio. It is a "sun room" on the south side of the house. It is a long narrow room, with a sliding glass door that connects to the living room at one end. The long side of the room has three large sliding glass windows. A fourth sliding window is at the far end, along with a door to the back yard.

The view from the living room. The far wall faces west.

The view from the other end of the room, looking back toward the inside of the house.

I have a large drafting table at one end of the room, covered with a large cutting mat (which is held in place with large clamps). I keep it at an angle because it is much easier on my back to cut fabrics with the table at an angle.  I do all my cutting standing up. In fact, I generally work standing. I only sit to sew.

 Of course, the problem with an angled table is that things tend to slide off. So I have a scrap piece of plexiglas (identified by a piece of blue painter's tape) clamped to one side of the table. This makes a little resting place for plastic templates and the pin tin. Without this little stop, the pin tin has more than once slid down the table and the pins went flying. This is one of the reasons I use steel pins. They can be collected with a large magnet I keep handy.

Behind my big cutting table is a small inspiration wall. I've got special photos, ribbons from the AQS shows (and show pins) my quilts have been exhibited in, my big blue ribbon "Motivation Award" from my pal Julie, and the special chair quilt made by a friend.

I store my long skinny cutting mat by hanging it on the wall in the corner.

On a low shelf that runs along that side of the room are these racks used to store my long cutting rulers and some templates within easy reach of my big cutting table. You can see more cutting rulers hanging on the wall between the two windows in the photo below.

My sewing machine sits on a table along with a small cutting mat. I use a comfortable office chair that gives me good support for my back. As you can see, a second, smaller drafting table is right behind it. This table also is covered with a cutting mat.  There are lots of lamps in the room because good light is very important.

Everybody always wants to know what kind of sewing machine I have, which I find amusing. It's a Brother, and it's an embroidery machine, but I got it second hand, so that doesn't bother me. It's really a terrific story, and you can read it here. It has a knee lift, a needle threader and a thread cutter. It sews like a dream and I love it.

 To the right of my sewing machine is this little wire bin with trimming scissors, a seam ripper, a small ruler and a few other little items I might need while sewing.

 I use medium gray thread for ALL my patchwork piecing. ALL. I buy one of these big spools about once a year.

There's very little I dislike more than running out of bobbin thread and having to stop to wind a new one. So when I get down to one full one, I stop and fill about twenty bobbins at one time. I keep this little container underneath the sewing machine. You can see it in the sewing machine photo above.

This photo was taken when I was first setting up the studio. You can see my cat Millie on the right.

During the day, the room is flooded with light from the windows. In the summer, the trees outside keep the direct sunlight out, but keep the room bright and pleasant.

The small work table is set so I can use it while sitting.

 I made a small ironing table by covering a wooden tv table with quilt batting, InsulBrite, and a fabric cover. It means I can sew, cut, iron from one spot, and sitting down. The little ironing table folds away nicely, and is stored behind the work table.

 A small taboret sits nearby.

Here I store my rotary cutters, pins, needles, and other tools I need to keep close by.

 spare parts, rotary cutter blades, instruction manuals,

 all are within easy reach of the sewing machine.

 On top of the work table lives this little decorative box I picked up at Home Goods a few years ago. It functions as a small tabletop wastebasket, and it's where I deposit bits of thread, broken pins and needles, or tiny scrap pieces of fabric.

 At the far end of the room is a kitty condo for my cat Millie. The area to the west of my house is all woods, so she has a great view of the outside. I found this wing chair at a second hand store for $130 USD.

The best part about it is that it is a recliner. It's great for guests when I have visitors, or when I'm contemplating something on the design wall. You can see more rulers and templates on the wall behind the chair. (Wall space is extremely limited in this room.)

 Behind the recliner there are a couple of places for Millie to nap. There's a quilt on the low shelf, which offers Millie a place to observe the birds, squirrels and chipmunks outside. Millie also likes the little cat hammock under the shelf.

Of course, Millie also naps on the ironing table, and the recliner when she's not on the kitty condo.

 On the wall at the end of the room is my thread rack.  OF COURSE the thread is arranged by color.

Underneath the thread rack is a small foldable step stool. I'm five feet tall, and I can't reach the top of the design wall without it. So I keep it handy. And yes, that is a custom calendar featuring Millie.

Opposite the recliner is the design wall, in literally the only place it could be. It's about 60" wide by 72" tall. The flannel is on top of homosote, so the wall can be used as a bulletin board also.

One of the annoying things about working on a design wall is you don't always know if things line up vertically. You think they do, but you're often wrong. The easiest way to fix that is to use a plumb line - a weight at the end of a piece of string. My weights are these DVI/VGA adapters. What can I say? They were free. They are attached to push pins I can stick in the design wall. It's just one more little low-tech trick to make my life easier.

To the right of the design wall is my fabric stash. Yes. It is out in the open. If I can't see it, it doesn't exist.
Of COURSE I store my fabrics by color, and by color only. I don't "sub sort" into large prints, novelties, blenders or any of that stuff. If I want BLUE, I look in the BLUE stack. Much simpler than trying to remember where else I might have stored something BLUE. Anything that's big enough to fold lives in this bookcase.

 Any fabric bigger than a 2" square and smaller than say, six by ten inches, lives in these Accessory Bins from the Container Store.

Stuff that's too big for the Scrap bins goes into the "Shoebox" size bins, also from the Container Store. See those bigger bins on the floor? Those are the Sweater Boxes from the Container Store.

Here's the best thing about these bins: They are stackable. Two shoeboxes fit on top of one sweater box. Two Accessory bins fit on top of one shoebox. The bins are sturdy and clear. And you can always get them. No more cheap bins from wally world or some discount place that never match the ones you bought last time. No more wondering if you can get more of what you already have. They are inexpensive and they are PERFECT! If you see a plastic bin anywhere in my studio (except for one), it is from the Container Store. If you buy some today, and need some next year, you will be able to get them. And they will be the same size. And yes, I label them.

OK, end of sales pitch. But seriously, The Container Store.

 On the other side of the fabric bookcase are these two bookcases. One holds books and the TV. (Hey, sometimes I have it on for "company.") The other holds music CD's and stuff. Tools, a measuring tape, business cards and postcards, pencils, pens, markers, a lint roller, and other stuff. Behind these two bookcases is the window to my bedroom. (Remember, the room was originally a sun porch.)

Next to the bookcases, and opposite my large cutting table is the ironing table. My sister and I made it. The height is perfect for me to iron without bending over. It is 24" x 48", so it's perfect for ironing big pieces of fabric.

Just to the right of the ironing table (because I am right-handed) is a small end table covered with a plastic placemat. It's where I keep the iron, a spray bottle and a measuring cup filled with water for the iron. I use steam. (So shoot me.) When I'm done ironing I empty the iron and unplug it. It really doesn't save the iron, so I buy relatively inexpensive irons and replace them every other year or so.

 I have a comfort mat in front of the ironing table. It makes it a lot more comfortable to stand and iron for extended periods of time. (Like when you're ironing an 8 yard piece of fabric for the backing of a quilt.)

Just to the right of the ironing table I store my large metal rulers. That yellow thing stuck to the light fixture is the powerful magnet I use for picking up pins.

No studio would be complete without a clock and some favorite photographs, letters, notes and special mementos. Can you find the quote that's engraved on the back of my iPad? The Christmas ornament from See Rock City? The art postcards by Homer, Chihuly, Cezanne, Mabuse, Gainsborough and Thomas Hart Benton? The photos of Julie's quilts and Larry's containers? Photographs of my son, and drawings from my "fairy oddkids?" There are thank you notes and letters from many friends, a cartoon from Playboy, some great quotes and pictures of my cats.

And right smack dab in the middle of everything is a magnetic knife rack I use to store my scissors and binding makers. It's right underneath the thermostat that controls the electric heat in that room, and THAT'S why the design wall is where it is. Because I couldn't move the damn thermostat.  Oh well!

 Running along the length of the room is this long shelf where I store odds and ends (and look! Everything is in those bins from the Container Store), orts and orphans and stuff I want to keep, but don't need at my fingertips.

It's also nice to have things around the studio that make you smile. This wind chime made from seashells hangs in one of the windows. The sound the chime makes isn't why I bought it. I bought it because it's pretty and colorful.

Hope you've enjoyed the studio tour.

As you can see, Millie is very impressed.


Pat said...

You are so organized. It's little wonder you accomplish such great things. I am also a huge fan of The Container Store. Thanks for the tour.

Quiltdivajulie said...

Excellent -- I, too, am a BIG fan of the bins and boxes from The Container Store. LOVE them!

Upstairs sewing said...

Thanks for the studio tour. It is fun to see where artists create. I am drowning in my stash and am constantly on the lookout for organisational ideas.

Love the drafting table idea.

Eat Sleep Quilt said...

Thanks for the tour, I'm also a fan of the Container Store ("contain yourself!"). It's one of those best kept secrets.

Alice said...

Love your craft room. You are so organized. Thank you for the tour.

Allison said...

I love this room and have picked up some great inspiration from this helpful tour, but one question: do you find you get cat hair on the fabric in the lower shelves? I can't imagine my friend refraining from rubbing along those soft tempting piles, leaving orange and white fur behind.....

Millie said...

Allison, my cat shows zero interest in rubbing against the fabric in the bookcase. I am more likely to find her napping on the ironing table.

Mystic Quilter said...

Great studio - thanks for the tour Lynne.

Allison said...

Hope Millie will soon be offering a workshop, "leaving your persin's fabric alone," to fellow felines. My friend will enrol immediately.

Mary Ellen said...

Many good ideas here. My sewing space is also long and narrow. And currently a hazmat site. Needs serious cleaning, organizing, and purging. Maybe I will make a start today.

SonJa said...

Love your space. I'm like you, very organized! I mean, if it is worth having, you should be able to find it. My space is always clean because everything has a logical storage spot (easily obtained and returned from where you use it). My space is much smaller (10X12) but it works very well for me. Containers, labels and those magnetic bars are great. Additionally, my exposed shelves are the wire kind like what you see those high faleutin folks put in their closets, and I use long S hooks for hanging lots and lots of things. Thanks for taking the time to show people how it CAN be when they put some thought into it!
Again, great space!

Unknown said...

Loved seeing your studio! Nice tour. Like the drafting table idea!

Do you do your own quilting? On the Brother?

Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

Browsing around your blog site. What a great studio and fun studio tour! Lots of inspiration here. And ya.... the Container Store is THE best!

Unknown said...

Your work is beautiful and your studio is fantastic! Great organizational ideas. Millie makes it the perfect sewing room!